We arrived in the mission field on Sunday evening, October 4. We landed just in time to see a beautiful sunset. Another senior missionary couple met us at the airport and drove us to our apartment, a modest but comfortable one-room place in the Church compound here.
Because we will be in charge of housing for the full-time missionaries, and we will at times be helping in the transferring of missionaries from one area to another, we have been assigned a “nice big van,” one which Alicia vows she will never drive. True, it is taking a little time to get used to driving on the left side of the road, especially inasmuch as the steering wheel is on the right, and the stick shift is located to the left of the wheel. So far, we have had only a few really close calls, but no accidents. The house across the street (in the rear of the picture of the van) is similar to ours.
Our job is challenging and terribly fun! We get to drive around and inspect missionary houses and teach the missionaries how to clean their homes, most of which are Church-owned one-bedroom little houses close to an LDS chapel. There are a couple of dozen on this island alone. Because sister missionaries are (1) a little more dedicated to cleanliness, and (2) a whole lot more reluctant to live in houses that have not been well maintained by the elders, we are focusing first on the sisters’ houses. Here is a picture of Sister McBride and two really wonderful Sister Training Leaders (pretty much like Assistants to the President, only for sister missionaries).
This friend of the missionaries makes its home under the house where the sisters live. They may be evicting him soon, or they may find a good use for him.
And driving around the island (twice so far this week) is making this a glorious experience for Elder McBride. I can’t imagine a more perfect calling! We get to drive all over the mission, rather than sitting in an office. And I get to chat and visit with real Samoans. The language is coming back to me faster than I had hoped it might.
It can be hard to find the houses where the missionaries live on the back side of the island, as there is no such thing as real addresses. A typical Samoan house these days might look like this:
We happened to meet the gentlemen below, and it turned out it is in his house where some sister missionaries live. He is the Elders Quorum President in his ward.
Fifty-two and one-half years ago my first proselyting area was the village of Vavau. The Vavau Branch at that time consisted of about 10 or 12 people, and we met in a Samoan fale (pronounced fah-lay). Today there is a strong ward in that village, with a beautiful chapel. In this picture I am standing in front of the church, looking across the street to where I once lived (although the houses which were standing there then have long been replaced). You can imagine the emotions I am feeling as I stand there.
This is a tropical island, and fungus and mold grow nicely in the shower stalls and bathrooms and small kitchens of the missionaries. Today Sister McBride and I and 5 other missionaries (two young elders and three young sisters) cleaned, scoured, scrubbed, swept, mopped, and emptied trash out of a house that had not been used in a while. It took two hours, and when we left, it sparkled! Rest assured that Sister McBride did not hesitate to take charge of the cleaning crew, leading by example, and giving specific instructions. Now that the house is quite livable, we will make sure they have check lists and reporting on how well it is maintained. We hope to make this a program for the rest of the mission.
And by the way, our Mission President, Arthur Hannemann (whose grandparents came from Samoa) and Sister Hannemann are simply wonderful. You have to see them in action to appreciate them, but it is obvious why they were called. They are great!